Newhall woman pleads guilty to vehicle theft, arson

San Fernando Superior Courthouse. Courtesy
San Fernando Superior Courthouse. Courtesy
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A woman accused of purposely starting a brush fire in Newhall last year pleaded guilty to vehicle theft and recklessly causing a fire, according to officials at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.  

Maria Herrera, 29, of Newhall, was originally charged, following the vehicle theft and fire, with driving or taking a vehicle without consent (a 2016 Prius owned by UCLA); and arson of a structure or forest. She had also been out on bail or on her own recognizance when the crimes occurred and was convicted of robbery in 2014.  

“She was given credit for 809 days in jail and put on probation for two years,” according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.  

The fire she’s accused of starting was reported at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2020, but firefighters stopped forward progress on the blaze about seven minutes later, after the fire had grown to about 2 acres, according to fire officials. 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials confirmed the arson investigation shortly after the fire was extinguished, noting that multiple witnesses identified a woman seen leaving the scene of the blaze as a possible suspect in what’s believed to be a fire that was deliberately set. 

Herrera had been previously sentenced in 2014 to three years in state prison for a no-contest plea to a robbery charge from 2012.  

In April 2019, she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of presenting false identification to a police officer. In March 2020 she pleaded no contest to a drug-possession charge, according to court records available online from the Los Angeles County Superior Court website.  

No one was injured in the blaze and no structures were damaged.  

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